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How Do Chrome and Chrome Relate?


3-4 times per week I find a Chrome script message overlaid on my email s/w (Thunderbird) page.

Typical message reads “chrome://global/content/bindings/general.xml:113”

The message text varies, but is always prefaced with “chrome…”. When this happens, Firefox slows to a crawl and the T-Bird tray icon shows an ominous orange background. I had Chrome on my machine at one time but deleted it (hopefully) using Revo Uninstaller at the most thorough uninstall setting.

In yet another case of horrifically confusing terminology choices, the “chrome” you’re seeing isn’t the Chrome you’re thinking of.

Put another way, this isn’t the Chrome you’re looking for.

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Chrome #1: A browser by Google

The “Chrome” you’re thinking of is, of course, the web browser. Currently, over half the internet uses Google Chrome. Since the start of 2018, literally just over 50% of all visitors to Ask Leo! were using Google Chrome.

Given its overwhelming popularity, it’s no surprise that Chrome would come to mind first.

Chrome #2: user interface technology

The user interface technology used by Firefox (and potentially other Mozilla applications, such as Thunderbird) is often referred to as “chrome”. My belief is that it’s “chrome” in the sense of putting the polish or shine on a user interface.

Chrome? Firefox?That technology —  XML User Interface Language, or XUL — is being phased out, but that doesn’t mean that plenty of references to it might not remain. Those references often take the form of something beginning with chrome:, much like web addresses begin with http:. Your message is not referencing a specific product or program, but an underlying technology.

And yes, it’s quite ironic that Google Chrome’s competitor, Firefox, would use an underlying technology called “chrome”. It’s unclear which came first, but it’s also irrelevant.

Chrome #3: the operating system

For completeness, I’ll include the Google Chrome operating system.

While Chrome OS is based on the Google Chrome browser, and includes the browser by default, it is much more than that. It’s a full-fledged operating system that has its roots in Linux as well.

Chrome versus chrome

Knowing what you’re dealing with means, in part, knowing these three things exist and then looking for a couple of subtle differences when you see the word “chrome”.

  • Chrome, with a capital “C”, by itself, typically refers to the browser, Google Chrome.
  • chrome, (all lower case followed by a colon) typically part of an error message, as you’re seeing it, refers to the interface technology in some other product, most likely Firefox.
  • Chrome OS, once again capitalized but this time followed by “OS”, refers to the operating system.

About your issue

Now that we know you’re not looking at the Chrome browser, the fact that your Firefox is slowing to a crawl makes a lot more sense.

In general, the error you see is often the result of a misbehaving extension. Step one to diagnose which extension or add-on would be to disable them all and then add them back in one by one, until the problem resurfaces.

But you’ll be looking in Firefox for chrome, and yes, that even sounds weird.

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10 comments on “How Do Chrome and Chrome Relate?”

  1. I seem to remember seeing the term Chromium in relation to Mozilla products, Firefox and Thunderbird before Google Chrome came out.

  2. Why does Chrome, the browser, use so many resources? I had to uninstall it because it was causing my system to stop until I unloaded Chrome.

  3. I have noticed issues with Chrome and I have uninstalled the version I had. It is confusing as I do not get any message from Chrome on my W7, HP PC. But I have noticed Google Chrome on my android mobile. What you are talking about is not W7, so I am going to keep a watch on it. I went to the Internet Explore browser and oh boy what a slow…….connection. So after 1 day, I reinstalled Chrome. Now my LastPass extension will not work. I am going to have to delete my LastPass account because even LastPass support could not figure it out. I have premium LastPass. The problems with LastPass started when they went on-board with Verizon in March 2018.

  4. I am wondering if you have heard about problems with LastPass since hooking up with Verizon? I think the corporate name now LogMeIn, Corp. Also, I am wondering if you use a password manager? If not, what do you use? Thank you for your help.

  5. What is chromium? It looks like the browser chrome icon, but it’s blue and appears Suddenly and uninvited i.e. the end-user didn’t install it that they are aware… sometimes on PCs in their list of programs, or as a desktop icon or other places. I’ve heard that it’s a valid file and I have heard that it’s malware. What is it, how did it get on a PC, and is it safe to uninstall? Thank you!

    • Chromium is the Chrome browser by another name. (Usually as found on Linux systems.) Not sure how you got it. Did you install something else at the same time this appeared?

  6. This level of confusion can do a company very real damage to its reputation and financial standing — e.g., a browser user sees “chrome:” error messages, and responds by mistakenly uninstalling his Chrome browser in an attempt to “solve” the problem!

    This could (and, IMHO, in this case probably should) provoke a trademark infringement suit brought by Google against Firefox; I can see no conceivable justification for the continued use of such a confusing terminology.

    • I believe the chrome rendering engine came first, so the infringement — if it meets that criteria — would be in the other direction.

      Besides, Google can’t keep itself straight: Chrome Browser and Chrome OS — both Chrome? Confusing. And don’t get me started on Microsoft. Smile

    • For your relatives and others who have little certainty of what to do with a computer, they would likely be perfectly served by a low-end Chromebook. And the ones who only use email who think the internet is too dangerous a place to venture out are using the internet to send and receive email :-) and for them, a Chromebook is the safest computer as long as they learn the basics of internet security covered in this article. Internet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet


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